The NBA Playoffs continue to roll on with another highly anticipated Western Conference semifinal bout between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Golden State Warriors on Thursday night. Anthony Davis made history with a scintillating performance in Game 1, etching his name into Lakers history by becoming the only player to drop at least 30 points, 20 rebounds, five assists and four blocks in a playoff game. But the Lakers didn't win because of him alone; LeBron James, D'Angelo Russell and Dennis Schroder also stepped up to help L.A. edge out Golden State in a close but decisive series opener.
So what can we expect in Game 2? Here are three bets I'm making ahead of Thursday night's clash.
Warriors -6.5 (-110)
The Warriors had no answer for AD in Game 1, and I expect Steve Kerr and Co. to adjust ahead of Game 2. Kerr acknowledged that getting into early foul trouble "set a bad tone" at the onset of Game 1, along with lapses in execution throughout. The Lakers averaged the most free-throw attempts per game in the regular season, but when Dennis Schroder scores 9 of his 19 points from the charity stripe, you know it's a problem.
The Lakers converted on 25 of their 29 free-throw attempts in the series opener — their highest mark of their postseason thus far.
Now, the Warriors can only do so much to throw Davis off his game — I'm expecting we'll see more zone looks and double-teams. Still, the key for the Warriors will be staggering Kevon Looney and Draymond Green's minutes at center, limiting their fouls and playing at a faster pace.
It's worth noting that Davis and James played at least 40 minutes each in Game 1, and the Warriors found success going to their small-ball lineup with Green at center and Andrew Wiggins at PF late in Game 1. Game 2 has the feel of a must-win game for the Dubs since they already crawled out of a 0-2 deficit in their first-round battle with the Kings. And as much as it felt like the Warriors were outmatched in the series opener, they managed to keep the game within reach. Despite all of their fouling and poor shooting — 41.5% on two-point FGs (they're shooting over 50% on 2-pt FGs in the postseason) — I think their shot-making will regress closer to the mean, which, on top of their 3-point shooting, should give them the edge in Game 2.
According to Action Network's Bet Labs, teams down 0-1 in a series at home in Game 2 are 19-1 straight up & 18-2 ATS since 2018-19. Those teams have also won by a margin of 10.1 points per game. The game opened up as Warriors -4.5, and I still like the Warriors to -6.5.
Stephen Curry over 30.5 points (-120)
Curry failed to hit this mark in Game 1, scoring 27 points and shooting an uncharacteristic 10-for-24 from the field. He only attempted one free throw in Game 1 after going to the line at least five times per game in every contest this postseason. The Lakers did a great job using multiple rangy defenders on him throughout the game, but I'm encouraged by the types of shots he was creating — they just didn't fall.
The Lakers have largely had Curry's number for a while. Dating back to last season, Curry's gone under 30.5 points in five of their previous six meetings across the regular season and postseason, averaging 27 points. However, since this game has the highest magnitude compared to the earlier matchups, I'm banking on Curry to come out aggressively — not only relying on his 3-ball but also attacking the paint.
He's exceeded 30.5 points in four straight at home after a loss in the postseason with an average of 36.2 points per game, so I'd play this up to 31.5.
Jarred Vanderbilt over 12.5 Points + Rebounds +Assists (-110)
Vando will be an X-factor for the Lakers in this series because his length on the perimeter is critical to the Lakers' stifling defense. He has the second-best defensive rating among the Lakers starters at 101.9. Plus, he has already put his versatility on display, guarding Stephen Curry at different stretches throughout Game 1. This number seems too low, considering Vando is coming off an 8-point, 6-rebound and 2-assist performance across 26 minutes in the series opener. While his minutes may be volatile (averaging 20.7 in the postseason), he'll get an uptick in this series, especially if/when the Warriors play small.
Rui Hachimura only played 11 minutes in Game 1. While he's been a reliable offensive spark off the bench, I expect him to see fewer minutes with the Lakers needing to lock in defensively against such a potent and dizzying offense.
Vanderbilt continues to find success against the Warriors, too, having exceeded 12.5 PRA in six of seven matchups versus the Warriors this season (postseason included), with an average of 19.6 per game. Taking it a step further, he's also averaging 21.6 PRA in four road games versus Golden State this season.
Vanderbilt is a two-way player who won't be shy to let it fly from three in addition to scrapping in the post. He'll be a mainstay of this series, and I can't resist taking this over in Game 2.